Form or Function: What do people really want in eLearning?

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I’ve long envied those women (mostly fictional) who float effortlessly amongst their dinner guests, all of whom are sipping drinks, laughing, and having the perfect time.  Perhaps it’s just the way these things are displayed on TV and in food magazines, but it seems as though the mix of guests, the quality of the food and the comfort of the seating matter more than the exact shade of the flowers or whether the tea cups match. 

Could it be that what makes a good party also makes a good learning experience? 

As I look back on the best class I ever took, and several others that I really enjoyed (despite being in subjects such as thermodynamics), I can see several analogies between the perfect class and the perfect dinner party: 

  • The host (teacher) really likes her guests (students)
  • The host really likes giving dinner parties (teaching)
  • She trusts her guests to choose their own seating and food (view the content in a manner the student finds conducive to learning)
  • She trusts her guests not to break or steal anything (make the course interesting and students will be more likely to do their assignments than cheat)
  • She cares more about the food (function) than the flower arrangements (form)
  • Her # 1 priority is making sure her guests have a good time (learn something); nice place settings (lots of whiz-bang stuff) is nice if it doesn’t get in the way of having a good time. 

When you’re designing your e-Learning – whether it’s for adults in business training or kids in school – ask yourself what type of host (teacher) you’d rather be.  Do you want to be Ina Garten or the one who serves the salmon mousse?

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